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Thread: 32 bit Snow leopard/Windows 7

  1. #1

    Member Since
    Jun 11, 2010
    32 bit Snow leopard/Windows 7
    Hello all,

    First time poster and slightly new to the Mac world so go easy on me.

    I recently just installed Windows 7 (via Boot Camp) on my Macbook Pro not realizing that it was 32 bit (I'm a college student so I was only given the ISO file from our Systems Admin). I paid 400 dollars for an upgrade to 8gb memory when I bought this laptop and now I've learned that I can only access half of that on my Windows partition (if this is incorrect please let me know). The Windows partition was meant to be for mostly gaming and I realize that 4 gb of RAM would probably suffice for now, but in the future, who knows? The point is, I paid a lot of money for double the amount of standard RAM and now its gone to waste.

    So after learning all of this, I start to wonder about my Snow Leopard OS. As with most people, my OS X is 32 bit (which I'm told is capable of booting in 64 bit mode). I do some research and find out that Snow Leopard still runs the capable applications in 64 bit. My question(s) is this: If a 32 bit Snow Leopard OS can only access approximately 4gb of RAM, why would Apple offer more RAM than its OS can use? Also, if I decide to do some gaming within my OS X partition, will they be run in 64 (using the full amount of RAM) or 32 bit (I'm sure it depends on the software but I guess my question is: IF the game is capable of running at 64 bit, will Snow Leopard make sure that it does?).

    I have a few more questions regarding similar problems I'm having but I guess we'll start with these first. Once again I'm very new to all of this. Thanks in advance for anyone willing to help. (And sorry for the slightly long post).

  2. #2

    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
    Keller, Texas
    Snow Leopard is 64 bit and can access the 8 GB in your machine. The version of Windows 7 you're running is 32 bit and can only access approximately 3.6 GB of memory.

    If you do some searching in this forum or the Apple sponsored forums, you can read all about how Snow Leopard runs 64 bit apps and memory usage. Also, never buy memory upgrades from Apple as they will cost more than third party resellers. And no, the memory is the same - Apple uses off the shelf modules.


  3. #3

    vansmith's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 19, 2008
    Hopefully this link will help to clarify some things. From what I understand, the old limit of 4GB was per process (as noted in that article). I'm not sure what, if any, impact running a 32-bit kernel has but I would imagine that if an application is running as a 64-bit process, the 4GB limit will no longer be an issue.

    (Someone better versed in this topic may be able to clarify what I just said).
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  4. #4

    Member Since
    Jun 11, 2010
    Thank you very much for the reply.

    So, to clarify, I should have no worries regarding my OS X partition, but I'm basically getting screwed as far as my Windows partition goes? As I mentioned before, my Windows partition will be used almost exclusively for gaming. Will my gaming suffer from only 3.6 gigs of RAM being used? I've been out of the computer gaming loop for awhile so I'm not sure how good/bad 4gb is.

  5. #5

    louishen's Avatar
    Member Since
    Oct 22, 2007
    OSX, even the 32 bit version does not suffer from the same limitations as 32 bit Windows.

    Rather than explain the whole issue, I'll just point you to this article

    AppleInsider | Road to Mac OS X Snow Leopard: 64-bits, Santa Rosa, and more
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  6. #6

    Member Since
    Jun 11, 2010
    Thank you both for the links. I will definitely be finding these very helpful.

  7. #7

    northrnchimp's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jun 13, 2010
    However, snow leopard defaults into 32 bit at boot, so you will definitely see benefits from booting into 64 bit mode (as long as any third party peripherals have 64 bit drivers, if not, just boot back into 32 bit by default).

    Although apps can run in 64 bit, the kernel is still running in 32, so booting to 64 will give you increased security, and a slight speed boost too (about 5 or 6%) - largely because (as mentioned in the linked articles above) the 64 bit register allows 'doubling up' of operations with smaller address space. Benchmarks by clearly demonstrate this ~6% speed boost.

    Just hold down the 6 and 4 keys until the apple logo appears when you boot.

  8. #8

    Member Since
    Feb 22, 2010
    And if you care, you should be able to get a 64 bit version of windows 7 from your school. I got both a 32 bit and a 64 bit, I have the 32 bit running in virtual box and the 64 bit running with boot camp.

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